There’s no telling how these wacky World Series games will end.
One night after a rare obstruction call, Jonny Gomes hit a decisive homer when he wasn’t even in the original line-up and Koji Uehara picked off a rookie at first base for the final out.
An entertaining, even goofy World Series is tied at two games apiece following Boston’s 4-2 victory over the St Louis Cardinals on Sunday night, which ensured the title will be decided back at Fenway Park.
“What’s going on inside here is pretty special, magical,” Gomes said.
Inserted into the line-up about 75 minutes before gametime, Gomes hit a tiebreaking, three-run shot off reliever Seth Maness in the sixth inning.
Felix Doubront and surprise reliever John Lackey, both starters during the regular season, picked up for a gritty Clay Buchholz to help the Red Sox hang on.
And of course, another bizarre ending: Uehara picked off pinch-runner Kolten Wong – with postseason star Carlos Beltran standing at the plate.
Of the 1,404 postseason games in major league history, the last two are the only ones to end on an obstruction call and a pick-off.
“It was the first time for me to end a game like that as far as I can remember,” Uehara said.
Game five is on Monday night at Busch Stadium, with Boston left-hander Jon Lester facing Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in a rematch of the opener, won 8-1 by the Red Sox.
Gomes helped Boston get started in the fifth when he followed David Ortiz’s lead-off double with a 10-pitch walk that tired starter Lance Lynn, who had faced the minimum 12 batters through the first four innings.
Stephen Drew’s sacrifice fly tied the score 1-1, erasing a deficit created when centrefielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s third-inning error advanced Matt Carpenter into scoring position for Beltran’s RBI single.
Ortiz, 8-for-11 (.727) in the Series after a three-hit night, was Boston’s leader, smacking his hands together and screaming at teammates to get going when he pulled into second base on his double. Then, after the fifth inning, he huddled the Red Sox for a pep talk in the dugout.
“Let’s loosen up and let’s try to play baseball the way we normally do,” Ortiz remembered telling them. “I know we are a better team than what we had shown. Sometimes you get to this stage and you try to overdo things, and it doesn’t work that way.”
“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” Gomes said, “He got everyone’s attention, and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful.”
Not long after, Gomes’ drive put Boston ahead 4-1 in the sixth.
With adrenaline taking over, Gomes spiked an arm through the air as he rounded first base, yelled and banged his chest with his right fist twice. Teammates tugged on Gomes’ beard for good luck when he got back to the dugout, including a two-handed pull by Mike Napoli.
Not exactly what Gomes expected when he arrived at the ballpark.
While talk of umpires’ calls dominated discussion following two of the opening three games, this one turned on a manager’s pre-game decision.
John Farrell’s original Red Sox lineup didn’t include Gomes, but Victorino’s back had been bothering him since Saturday, so Daniel Nava was moved from leftfield to right and from fifth to second in the batting order. Gomes was inserted into the No 5 hole behind Ortiz.
“During batting practice, when I met with Shane today, he said, ‘Yeah, put me in there. I’ll find a way to get ready to start the game’,” Farrell said. “As we went through the other work, it became obvious he wasn’t capable. And you know what? It turns out that his replacement is the difference in this one tonight.”